– Photo – Quality ContributorsFactors contributing to the cost/benefit stream in direct proportion to process throughput include formulation accuracy and end product uniformity.

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Factors contributing to the cost/benefit stream in direct proportion to process throughput include formulation accuracy and end product uniformity. The costs and/or benefits associated with these factors accrue in direct proportion to process volume or throughput. Because of this direct connection to production volume the scale of potential cost savings (as well as other metrics of benefit) derived from improved accuracy and/or uniformity can be quite substantial. And when proper account is taken of them, calculated payback times can be drastically shortened.

Formulation Accuracy
From a cost/benefit perspective, the issue of formulation accuracy initially appears to offer little analytical traction. In order to achieve and maintain acceptable product quality, processors require formulation accuracy to conform to pre-specified ingredient proportions and tolerances. In evaluating a candidate proportioning system, laboratory testing is routinely conducted to reveal if it meets these requirements. If the system passes it remains under consideration; if it doesn’t it may be rejected.

Under this ‘meet-the-spec’ test, demonstrable performance differences among competing suppliers may be discounted and not considered since no direct cost benefit can be attributed to improved formulation accuracy. Simply put, meeting spec is a sort of ‘pass or fail’ test candidate systems must pass simply to remain under consideration.

This approach may guarantee required formulation integrity, but by focusing too sharply on the ‘foul lines of formulation’ it fails to recognize or attach a value or cost benefit to systems displaying ‘better-than-spec’ performance.

However, by exploiting ‘better-than-spec’ feeding performance, total material costs can be reduced, and a specific cost benefit can be established! Through a process of recipe cost minimization involving the strategic substitution of costly ingredients with less costly formulation components, recipe costs can be reduced without violating the recipe’s original ingredient-by-ingredient tolerance allowances. To see how this may be done, see the section entitled Minimizing Recipe Cost.

End Product Uniformity
Acceptable end product uniformity is always a core quality-based concern. Many varied and diverse process-related factors can affect end product uniformity, only one of which is the consistency of the formulation operation. However, one thing is certain: an inconsistent formulation always translates directly into inconsistency of the end product.

Formulation consistency, however, is uniquely and crucially important in that it impacts end product uniformity in so many of its multiple metrics: color, density, hardness, uv and flame protection, surface appearance, processability, and in all the other ways in which the product’s consistency may be assessed.

Thus, whatever quality measures may apply, and whatever standards may be employed to gauge, assess or confirm uniformity in any given application, the contribution of the proportioning system to end product uniformity cannot be underestimated.

In process planning and cost analysis, while it is common to assume certain overall scrap/recycle rates and costs.

Often it is not possible to identify and isolate a proportioning system’s contribution to those costs, much less speculate on any differences in those costs that may occur among competing candidate systems.

As a result it is difficult to asses a better performing proportioning system a specific, traceable cost savings stream related to enhanced end product uniformity. However, even if exact savings elude estimation, recognition should be given to a better-performing proportioning system’s ability to consistently produce a more uniform end product.